The hard to access medieval fortress of Monyak near the village of Shiroko Pole, which hindered enemy attacks millenniums ago, now challenges present-day visitors.
The steep slope that leads to it will inevitably make one gasp for breath but soon his or her breath will stop because of the captivating view to Studen Kladenets Dam below and to the beautiful slopes of the Eastern Rhodope in the distance. Then vistors will see the town of Kardzhali in their legs. And finally they will humble themselves in front of the remains of the once imposing fortress of Monyak.
It is known to be one of the biggest and highest situated strongholds in these lands. It is also famed for having played an important role in the Third Crusade (1189 – 1192). Its big strategic importance comes from the fact that it served to guard the Zhelezni Vrata (Iron Gates) Pass and the passes to the medieval city built around the St. John the Bapist Monastery. During the following centuries its glory as an unconquerable fortress kept being valid and proven in battle until in 1343 it feel under the pressure of the Ottomans. Recently – in 2003 - it was renovated but after that it was forgotten again.
In spite of that, traces of its former glory can be found even today – the outside fortified wall that closely surrounded the hill from the north as well as the inside part with two towers at the entrance, a citadel, multi-storied buildings with various functions and water storage spaces. Enough to please the visitor.